Tag Archives: inventions

Fridge Attractions

image via instructables

A refrigerator is more than just a box in which to store food — it is a blank canvas, waiting to be filled with the colors and moods of life. Refrigerator magnets help us do this. Thanks to their magnetic holding powers, those vast blank surfaces end up holding relics of humdrum routines and reminders, sweetness nothings and silliness, shining moments and stellar awesomeness.

Little wonder that there are quite a number of passionate designers and inventors who aim to bring as much personality, expressiveness, and life into these objects that hold up the little bits of our existence. What they come up with provide refrigerators with attractions that are just as zingy as last night’s chili.

Here are 7 of the best things that happened to refrigerator magnets.

Shakespeare

Magnetic Poetry changed the way people used refrigerator magnets, and they became not just pretty and utilitarian things, but wonderfully interactive as well. The simplicity of its concept was brilliance that unlocked brilliance from people. Those magnetized words were really building blocks of wit that drew out originality from people who would only otherwise be drawn to leftover noodles.

This Shakespeare Kit contains tasty mouthfuls of fragrant words that were the Bard’s currency. I had so much fun checking out the other offerings at the Magnetic Poetry site too. They’ve got a boxes and boxes of vocabulary there, for different ages and leanings, from the wholesome to the R-rated, from Latin phrases to sign language, to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Magnetic Shelves

The fun of these Magneto Shelves is in their strange incongruity with the fridge. There’s awesome surprise factor there, as well as practicality. You never know when you’ll need that extra shelf space (ha!). A great idea by designer Henry Julier

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Ninja Stars

Taiwanese designer Lee Weilang adds menace to fridge messages with these shuriken shaped magnets. The sleek black things can give your kitchen a dangerous, ominous, action-suspense vibe!

Bolts

I think there is huge hilarious potential in these magnets disguised as bolts. The very illusion of macho strength and permanence adds a layer of ridiculous to the most mundane, inane messages and photos.

Leaves

Cold metals get a dose of organic warmth with these gorgeous leafy magnets designed by Richard Hutten for Gispen.

Water Droplets

Korean designer Sang Woo Nam of Appree came up with these perfect little droplets. Their shape, sheen, transparency, and variable sizes make them look so natural, so fresh and wet, that you can almost smell the rain.

Woody Cubes

Where’s that pen when you need it? These adorable little magic pen cubes eliminate the need for that frantic pen rummage. And even when they are not holding pens, the grain and warmth of the smooth neatly cut wood  looks fabulous on any fridge door. From Less and More on Etsy.

Wanna DIY?

In theory, you can stick a magnet on anything, and so barring limitations of size and weight, anything can become a fridge magnet! I’ve seen buttons, twigs, coins, bottle caps, and a whole bunch of other objects that have been made into fridge fun. So if you feel like making your own magnets, with a healthy bit of finesse, here’s a tutorial from Megan of Not Martha on how to make lovely glassy marble-y magnets.

Been There, Done That First:
10 Things Asia Started

It’s a pretty common game–people do love to brag. Among schoolchildren, it’s called “my dad/robot/dog is better than yours”, and when the kids grow up and attend their high school reunions, they play “been there, done that”. So if the eastern and western hemispheres got into a pissing contest, here are 10 things the Asians would say they’ve done first.

1. Write Notes

It would have been nice if the first note ever written were a love letter, but no, it was an accounting record in Mesopotamia (Iran-Iraq in the present day) sometime 3000 BC. It was created by making marks on soft clay, which was then fired until it hardened. So in a sense, the first banking document was written in stone.

Cuneiform artifact

An account of barley rations in cuneiform

  • Printing soon came after, with the use of embossed cylinders that made impressions on soft clay as it rolled over them.
  • Ink was invented in China around 1100 BC, block printing in 220 BC and paper in 200 AD.

2. Count to Ten

Abacus, the Chinese calculator

An abacus–because people ran out of fingers to count with.

We take for granted that the way we count now and the numbers we use are how it has always been done by everyone, but ancient peoples had to figure it out from scratch, and came up with different ways of doing so. We inherited our decimal number system (based on 10s) from the Indians who got it down by 500 AD. But there is now evidence that the Chinese already had a decimal system two thousand years earlier, so it may be that the Indians got it from them. While the scholars delve into this juicy piece of history, we can just sit back and appreciate the zeroes in our bank statements.

3. Blow Things Up

Fireworks over a harbor

Fireworks, the prettiest use for gunpowder.

In the middle of the 9th century AD, Taoist alchemists in China discovered the formula for gunpowder while trying to cook up the “elixir of life”–ooh, so ironic! The party people and artists used this discovery to make cool fireworks, while the warriors predictably used it to make rockets and bombs.

4. Flip-flop Around

Zori, the precursor to flip-flops

Japanese zori

Flip-flops with their distinctive Y-shaped straps are based on the Japanese zori slippers. American soldiers coming home from World War II brought some of these babies home and made rubber versions of them. Today these footwear have come to represent easy breezy style and laid-back chic.

5. Checkmate a King

Stylish chess pieces

I would like to capture these uber-stylish chess pieces.

Chess began in Northwest India in the 6th century, and the military strategy game soon spread to Persia, where the exclamations of “shah!” (king!) and “shah mat!” (king is dead!) were first called out, echoing in today’s “check” and “checkmate”.

6. Lather Up With Soap

Handmade soap bars

People in Ancient Babylon (a city-state in Mesopotamia) were already taking sudsy baths 4000 years ago. There was even a recipe for soap in 2200 BC, inscribed in a slab of clay.

7. Cross Legs into Lotus

Extended downward facing dog pose

Way before Madonna ever chanted “Shanti Ashtangi”, yoga was being practiced in India, 3000 B.C at the latest.

8. Get Together for Tea

Yi xing teapot

The yi xing teapot, preferred for brewing certain teas.

Tea has been drunk in China since perhaps 28th century BC, but for sure by 10th century BC, and it has since elevated into a much loved, ceremonial ritual. That’s a few millennia before the beverage was taken with crumpets and cucumber sandwiches.

9. Slurp Up Noodles

Ancient noodle fossils

Care to sample these noodles?

The debate on which culture initially brought forth noodles can now be put to rest with the discovery of these 4,000-year old noodles, found along the banks of China’s Yellow river.

10. Get People to Listen Kindly to Amateur Singing

Karaoke mike

Karaoke unleashes the pop star and the mike-hogger in you.

A combination of Japanese and Filipino ingenuity has given wannabe vocalists the permission to rock out in public, even when no band would take them. In karaoke culture, less than stellar singers are given encouragement and support instead of being booed offstage. As music formats evolved, so did karaoke, switching from cassette tapes in the 80’s to today’s discs, data cards, and video games.